Posts Tagged 'brand marketing'

The Marketing Hall of Fame Is Now Open

There is a Nobel Prize for Economics. And a Nobel Prize for Literature. Why isn’t there a Nobel Prize for Marketing?

Welcome to the one, the only, the official Marketing Hall of Fame. Celebrate Brilliance in Marketing.



The Marketing Hall of Fame is where the Nobel Prize of Marketing lives. Produced by the NYAMA.

Stay tuned…more to follow…

BRITE Is On The Horizon

This year’s BRITE Conference is scheduled to start on Monday, March 4th.

The team up at Columbia Business School always put together a fascinating program.  A lot of hits and very few fizzles over the years.

Last year BRITE and the NYAMA teamed up on a major study on Marketing in the Age of Big Data (NYAMA_BRITE_Slides_030612 copy)  Professor Don Sexton and I presented some of the key findings.  David Rogers drew on it for additional insights.  While we aren’t presenting new data at the conference this year, there will be additional findings released by Don and David in the coming months.

So here’s what you need to know:

Our presenters will speak about a range of topics such as digital strategy, the future of mobile, and global insights. Our agenda can be found at:

Featured speakers include:

  • Shiv Singh, Global Head of Digital, PepsiCo Beverages
  • Liz Schimel, Chief Digital Officer, Meredith National Media Group
  • Kerry Trainor, Chief Executive Officer, Vimeo
  • Kaaren Hanson, Vice President of Design Innovation, Intuit
  • Michael Hagan, Chief Operating Officer, LevelUp
  • Jean Brandolini-Lamb, Vice President, Global Branding, SAP
  • Charles Duhigg, Author, The Power of Habit; Journalist, The New York Times
  • Miklos Sarvary, GlaxoSmithKline Chaired Professor of Corporate Innovation, INSEAD
  • Bernd Schmitt, Executive Director, Institute on Asian Consumer Insight; Professor, Columbia Business School

We hope to see you there!


David, Matt, and Allie

Presented by the Columbia Business School Center on Global Brand Leadership

March 4 – March 5, 2013

Lerner Hall, Columbia University, New York, New York


BRITE ’13 will bring together 300-400 leaders from business, technology, media, and marketing to discuss how technology and innovation are transforming the ways that companies build and sustain great brands.

Kotler and Keller on Narrative Branding

It is a great honor that Narrative Branding is included in Marketing Management by Professors Philip Kotler and Kevin Keller.

Marketing Management (15th Edition, Pearson) is the most widely used marketing textbook.  It has been adopted by many MBA programs around the world.

Narrative Branding

Narrative Branding method in Kotler/Keller Marketing Management

Opening for Executive Director of the New York American Marketing Association

Perhaps the best job in marketing is now open:  Executive Director for the NYAMA

This is a spot where you can really influence the future of marking by promoting, supporting and celebrating brilliance in marketing.  Some of the major initiatives include the relaunch of the Marketing Hall of Fame, Marketing Solutions Summit and monthly events that bring together senior marketing executives from a variety of corporations — Microsoft, Kraft, Citi, JetBlue, Honest Tea to name just a few — to discuss the most important issues marketers are facing today.

Learn more at

Happy New Year!

Will the Great Recession have an lasting effect on consumer attitudes?

Okay, this post is a bit nerdy and not the typical brand blogging kind of stuff.  It looks at some of the deeper economic and psychological issues involved in the on-going Great Recession.

Since the beginning of 2010 I have been asked by clients and friends, Is this downturn really going to make a permanent, generational shift in consumer attitudes?  Or will people just return to their old habits once the economy picks up more?

Are we in a state of a “new normal” where the changes are fundamental and profound?  Or is this just another swing in the on-going see-saw in response to the business cycle?

The answer to this question has serious implications for businesses.   To make a broad generalization, if a company believes the changes are temporary, then they will not make dramatic changes in their product lines going forward.  If another company believes there is a fundamental change in attitudes and behaviors — a lasting change — then they will move quickly to capitalized on that new trend.  They will align their offerings and their brand with the shift in consumer values.

The question comes up whenever there is a downturn.  Usually the answer is that people will resume their previous patterns.  Here are two examples:

Following the oil shocks and inflation of the 1970s, many people predicted that Americans would make a generational shift to smaller cars.  The price of a gallon of gas rose to $1.35 by 1981 — which is equivalent to $3.24 in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation.  Source:, based on BLS statistics.  Fuel economy was the catch-word of the day.  Gas rationing was fresh in everyone’s minds.  [A short detour into history of the times.  During the 1970s OPEC companies put an embargo on oil to the US.  One result was that people could buy gas only every other day, depending on the last digit of their license plate being an odd or even number.]  Within a couple of years the cost of gas dropped back down.  The American love affair of minivans and then SUVs soon knocked out any serious discussion of changes in consumer attitudes and behaviors.



On a Monday in October of 1987 I was standing at a window on the 21st floor of 1515 Broadway, watching the news ticker on the Times Square Tower.  The news was astounding — a drop of over 22% in stock prices during just one day.  My client at the time, The Prudential and Prudential-Bache was concerned that this signaled the end of people buying mutual funds and other investments closely tied to the stock market.  Was this going to be a generational shock like the crash of 1929?  We conducted market research among mutual fund and stock owners.  Rather than rushing to sell their mutual funds, most said they were going to hold and see what happened.  That was when the stock market high was 2,700.  We all know what happened next — that more and more people put more and more money into the stock market in the years that followed.

Based on past experience it is reasonable to assume that attitudes and behaviors will return to “normal”, that the disruption in purchasing behavior is just temporary.

However, this time really does appear to be different.  This time there is considerable evidence that the severity of the Great Recession is deeper and longer lasting than previous downturns in the US and Western Europe.  Go beyond the typical measures of employment and GDP and look at price inflation.  Or, rather, deflation.  In this downturn prices have actually dropped across the board for almost everything.  Down for home prices, down for commodities, down for goods and services.

In my opinion, it is price deflation, or negative inflation, that makes this downturn different from all others.  And that is why we can expect a longer lasting shift in attitudes.  A generational shift.

What is price deflation?  It is the phenomena of falling prices.  What is expensive today is cheaper tomorrow.  Sounds like a great idea, since everyone wants to pay less for what they are buying.  In practice it is far from a great idea.  It is the exact opposite of a great idea.  Price deflation is dangerous for businesses.

Here is a simple hypothetical example of how deflation works:

The price of a toaster oven is $100 this week.  In a stable price environment it will be $100 next week and so on.  You can but it today or tomorrow and it will make no real difference.

In a slightly inflationary environment it may rise to $102 within a year.  That gives you an incentive to purchase the toaster oven today so that the price doesn’t rise tomorrow.

But in a deflationary cycle the cost will drop from $100 down to $90 (hypothetically speaking).  Therefore you will not buy today or tomorrow.  You will wait for prices to fall further before you buy.  Your demand for the product has now declined.  Why buy a toaster oven today when it will be cheaper in a few months?

This sets a trap for marketing.  Advertising price drops should, in a normal economy, stimulate demand.  So many companies will continue with the price promotions from the recent past.  In a deflationary period it simply reinforces the belief that prices will decline, so consumers will continue to wait before purchasing.

Pushing hard on pricing also de-values a brand.  So now you have a price deflator attached to your brand.

In a deflationary time, marketing has to work harder than ever to stimulate and support consumer demand.  It needs to stimulate desires that counter the consumer psychology of deflation.  Easier said than done, however.

So how real is the threat of deflation?  Very real.  Below is a chart on inflation rates.  Real price deflation has already happened.  And we are on the verge of a long term slide into more deflation or, at best, virtually no inflation.  This is not just an academic exercise or something for politicians and Paul Krugman to argue about.  It has a real effect on stock prices, on the ability of people to buy goods, on income levels on the overall demand for goods and services.

inflation rates

inflation rates

So, yes, this time there is good reason to believe that changes in consumer attitudes are real and lasting.

Branding tools people use vs. branding tools that are useful

I thought this was rather fascinating.  We did a simple cross-tab of marketers who use a variety of branding tools on one axis and how useful they thought the tool was on the other.

Rather revealing.

Seems that many marketers are using tools that they don’t find to be particularly useful.  At least that is the read from Frank and from my team members.  It aligns with all of the other signals that we are getting from marketers — they want breakthrough branding methods that are designed for today’s world.

I just keep going back to the book Chaotics by Kotler and Caslione — where they make a very clear point that we can’t go back to marketing-as-usual because that world doesn’t exist anymore.  I’d actually quote the book but I’m in Frankfurt at the moment with a very limited library of  Wallace Shawn essays.  He’s a marvelous playwright and a very funny actor.  His more serious work is the play “Aunt Dan and Lemon” and his acting has included everything from Woody Allen movies to being Jon Stewart’s therapist on The Daily show.

But I digress.  Back to the business of branding.

The chart below is from our study of 130 CMOs and marketing decision makers that was fielded in January.  You can get a more detailed copy of the study in earlier posts.  And we are putting this together with the 2009 data for a more in-depth look at the state of marketing as we move into this brave new decade.

So how do you think branding should be reinvented?

CMOs on branding tools: Use vs. Useful

Great event with John Caslione, co-author of Chaotics

This evening it was a great pleasure to have John Caslione discuss the Chaotics theory of management and marketing.  We were quite fortunate to arrange the event, since John lives in Frankfurt, Milan and Chicago.

I find two things quite remarkable about the presentation and about Chaotics as a whole.  First of all, this is a fundamentally new theory of how to manage and market an organization.  Sure, there are pieces of it that have been played out here or there but nobody has put together a serious playbook of how to manage in a world of on-going disruptions — or turbulence as John and Phil put it.  The second is that here we find Philip Kotler, a seminal figure in modern marketing — n fact THE seminal figure of American marketing — coming right out and saying that the old methods of marketing will decrease in effectiveness.

So Bravo John and thank  you for an interesting, timely and at time provocative view on how to re-think and improve marketing!

More on the Brand Bubble

So here is the quote of the day, again from The Brand Bubble by Ed Lebar and John Gerzema

In wanting the brand to bring more benefits in the future, consumers will accept some degree of “brilliant failure” as a necessary by-product of the brand’s search for progress.  Remember, Apple had the Newton, the Lisa and Macintosh TV, but Apple’s inventiveness constantly supplies the evolutionary learning for the company’s new products, including today’s Nano video and iPhone.

All too often we benchmark the brilliant successes of others and ignore their  “brilliant failures” along the way.  We smooth out the bumps in history, erasing the part that either luck or failure play.  We look at happy accidents as if they were by deliberate design.   We can learn far more by studying both the success and the failures of others.

In fact there is an entire organization dedicated to learning from the failures of others and applying those lessons.  (I image that their annual meetings can be pretty depressing…)  It is the Association for the Study of Failure.


ASF logo



Apple tried and failed and tried and failed and tried again and finally achieved redemption.  If not redemption, then at least a lot of market success!

When we are benchmarking, we need to be careful.  Are we building a machine based on hindsight?  Are we being bold in our vision or following the path of another?  We cannot benchmark our way to the future.

To which I add another quote, this one from a favorite of mine, Samuel Beckett:

Ever tried? Ever failed?  No matter.  Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.

I never thought that I’d ever have the opportunity to quote Beckett in a branding discussion!

Is Marketing being marginalized in B-school?

The world has changed dramatically in the past 30 years.  Consumers and customers have changed dramatically in the past 30 years.  Media has changed dramatically in less than 10 years.  The actual practice of marketing, by corporate marketers, is changing as people adapt to the new realities — some more successfully than others.

But what hasn’t changed is the most popular theory of marketing — brand positioning — and the way that it is taught in B-School.

Several professors, including Wharton’s Gerry Wind, have now said that the teaching and study of marketing is so narrow that it is in danger of being marginalized at business schools.  The title of their article gives it all away: “Is Marketing Academia Losing It’s Way?”   While they don’t single out brand positioning in particular, they make the very clear point that just at the time when new theories are marketing are most needed, they are least likely to be found in the great universities.

There is an alarming and growing gap between the interests, standards, and priorities of academic mar- keters and the needs of marketing executives operat- ing in an ambiguous, uncertain, fast-changing, and complex marketspace.

There are now several alternative theoretical models to replace the traditional brand positioning approach.  Only one of them was developed by an academics.  The four I am most familiar with — and which are true frameworks — are 1) Professor Doug Holt’s Iconic Branding; 2) Marc Gobe’s Emotional Branding; 3) Larry Light and Joan Kiddon’s Brand Journalism which they created for McDonald’s.  The fourth is our own Narrative Branding approach.

The article was published in The Journal of Marketing last summer.  A copy of it is here.


Trends in marketing, Part 2

Some more insight from our new CMO study into marketing tools and techniques.  We surveyed 130 CMOs and marketing decision makers about marketing methods, tools and techniques.  In this post and some earlier posts I have been sharing topline findings from the research.

I compare marketing last year to a deep freeze.  Budgets were frozen, projects were frozen, innovation was frozen.  Last year pretty much everyone was focused on retrenchment.  They need to justify marketing spend with quantifiable ROI, cutting out costs, re-organizing the marketing functions.

Our study shows that marketing is clearly thawing.  But it isn’t even.  Some companies have moved forward to take advantage of the situation.  And others are still in a deep freeze.  We are now seeing 2 distinct segments of marketers.  [A special acknowledgement to Frank Woei of Bellwether Interactive for uncovering this].

One segment is the “Evolvers”.  This group is maximizing the situation by seizing new opportunities.  They are prioritizing evolving their marketing to match evolving business strategies, and preparing for the economic upturn by improving their brand image and reputation.

The other segment is the “Re-organizers”  This group is still frozen in place. They are analyzing and re-evaluating everything, seeking that measurable ROI and cutting marketing costs everywhere possible.

In past recessions we have seen that some companies have a great resilience and come out relatively stronger than going into the recession.  We are now seeing evidence that the pattern is repeating in this recession.  Hyundai and Apple immediately come to mind as winners emerging in a changed marketplace.

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